Skip to Navigation

Icon of the Mother of God "the Unexpected Joy"


Commemorated on December 9 (also on January 25 & May 1)

The “Unexpected Joy” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos reflects a room where an icon of the Mother of God is present, and a young man is kneeling at prayer beneath it. The tradition about the healing of a youth from a bodily affliction through this holy icon is recorded in the book of St. Demetrius of Rostov, The Fleece of Prayer [See Judges 6: 36-40].

One day, the sinful youth, who was nevertheless devoted to the Theotokos, prayed before the icon of the All-Pure Virgin before going out to commit a sin. Suddenly, he saw that wounds appeared on the Lord’s hands, feet, and side, and blood flowed from them. In horror he exclaimed, “O Lady, who has done this?” The Mother of God replied, “You and other sinners, because of your sins, crucify My Son anew.” Only then did he realize how great was the depth of his sinfulness. For a long time he prayed with tears to the All-Pure Mother of God and the Savior for mercy. Finally, he received the unexpected joy of the forgiveness of his sins.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (